The desire to consolidate and sustain the gains of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has given birth to and necessitated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The general objective of the goals in my own words is to put an end to substandard human living by 2030. They are a means to achieving human development.
I have looked at the 17 goals and 169 targets as summarized below:
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
The actualization of the above SDGs calls for an all inclusive collaborative effort across the broad spectrum of our societies. All hands must be on deck. I therefore salute the ambassadors of change for this effort.
SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The concept and practice of Sustainable Human Development seeks to change the way we view development objectives. It is built on the paradigm that development is centered on the individual members of the society. The development of the people therefore is the development of the nation and not the other way round. Societies should therefore focus on improving the quality of life of the individual.
Human Development, a concept that was developed by Economist Mahbub ul Haq at the World Bank in the 1970s, was defined in www. measureofamerica.org as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. Dr. Haq argued that existing indexes of human progress failed to account for the true purpose of development: which is to improve people’s lives. In particular, he believed that the commonly used index of Gross Domestic Product failed to adequately measure well-being. A nation for example could score high in GDP growth without commensurate reflection of such figures on the lives of its populace.
Sustainable Human Development Defined
Eva Jespersen proposed the following definition of sustainable human development as “The preservation – and whenever possible expansion – of the substantive freedoms and capabilities of people today while undertaking reasonable efforts to avoid risks that would seriously compromise the capability of future generations to have similar – or greater – freedoms.” – Mother Pelican. A Journal of Sustainable Human Development. Vol. 7, No7, July 2011 [i]
Luis T. Gutierrez, in his editorial remarks, also defines the term as development that promotes the integral human development of each and every human person today without compromising the integral human development of people tomorrow. This definition is patterned after the Brundtland Report (1987) and Amartya Sen (1999) definitions, albeit with additional emphasis on the integration of the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of people. – Mother Pelican. A Journal of Sustainable Human Development. Vol. 7, No7, July 2011[ii]
As the 17 SDGs, any future development plans or goals must be approached from the perspective of the concept of Sustainable Human Development, i.e. focusing on improving the life of the individual, and ensuring that such attempts do not conflict with the freedom and privileges of the future generation. We must focus on creating the right environment for the individual to thrive. There must be unhindered access to education and knowledge, avenues and opportunities for wealth creation, unhindered freedom of choice and all these in an atmosphere of peace, security and tranquility. Someone rightly observed that “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development”. This again calls for a collaborative effort.
As a member of the clergy, I will like to zero in on the role of religion (Christianity) in SHD. The Christian church and her clergy must begin to focus more on SHD. Yes it is important to build physical structures and achieve a number of collective objectives. We must however take more interest in the developing and benefiting the individual. Spiritual development being our primary objective can however not be expedited without mental development, since the route to the human spirit is through the human mind.
“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development” -Kofi Annan.
The Christian church must therefore continue to invest massively on the provision of quality education for the society, not just for Christians. This is the only way to mentally emancipate the people and empower them. This quality education must also be made available at a subsidized and affordable cost, while the poor and indigent must be placed on scholarships to help in educating the children of the poor also.
Religious Education for Peace
Religious education being the primary duty of clergy must emphasize tolerance of other religions, so as to live peaceably with men of other religions thereby guaranteeing their freedom of worship. I don’t believe in the line of thought of the present curriculum of education in Nigeria that lumps all religions together in one subject: ‘Religion and National Values’. People must not be forced to study other religions but be taught with strict emphasis within the curriculum of their chosen religion, to tolerate other religions.
Individual Economic Well Being
The clergy must become more creative in creating systems that will engender wealth creation. Members must be taught how to generate legitimate wealth while creating a support systems that will help the weak and create networking platforms for wealth generation.
Religion is a good route to the conscience. It is an aberration to have an increase in crime even in the midst of increasing religious consciousness. Clergy and laity alike must therefore encourage moral rectitude. Yes it is the duty of clergy to model morality on and off the pulpit bench; laity must however not neglect the duty of being your ‘brothers’ keeper’ against sin and immorality.
Sustainable Human Development is not job for clergy alone. Businesses, corporate bodies, political leadership, families etc. must rethink at a strategic level. We must start appling the principles of SHD, if we are to achieve the SDGs and build a better world, both now and in the future, there must be collaborations acreoss board. Yes organizational goals are a necessity, a good GDP ranks high in the economic comity of nations; if we however achieve all these at the expense of the present and future development of the individual, then we have achieved nothing, because the life of the individual member of our institutions is our signature. The individual human resource is our true capital and when every other thing fails, a developed individual stands. Think Human Development, but most importantly think sustainability.
Thank you for listening.
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development